How Much Money is a Hip Injury Worth in New York?
Updated: Mar 2
The Answer is - It depends . . .
A hip injury can be a life-altering event, causing severe pain, limitations on mobility, and a long road to recovery. If you've suffered a hip injury in New York due to another’s negligence, you may wonder how much compensation you could receive. Let’s explore the factors determining a hip injury's value and some examples of past settlements and verdicts in New York.
Factors that Determine the Value of a Hip Injury
The value of a hip injury case depends on various factors, including:
1. The severity of the injury: A severe hip fracture that requires surgery, extensive rehabilitation, and concurrent injuries will generally result in a higher settlement or verdict than a less severe fracture.
2. The victim's age: The age at which an individual sustains an injury significantly impacts the extent of their pain and suffering damages. Younger individuals are likely to experience greater levels of physical, emotional, and psychological distress due to the injury, primarily because they have a longer life ahead of them to endure the consequences of the trauma. Conversely, older individuals who suffer an injury are less likely to be awarded substantial pain, and suffering damages as the duration for which they will experience the effects of the injury is comparatively shorter.
3. Economic damages: The total amount of medical expenses, lost wages, and future medical costs will influence the value of a claim. The out-of-pocket costs you incur in connection with your injury should be paid back to you in any verdict or settlement. Out-of-pocket expenses affect both your economic damages and non-economic damages.
4. Non-economic damages: Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and emotional distress can be hard to quantify. This is where multipliers come in. Attorneys apply multipliers (generally 1x to 5x) to your economic damages to assess the value of your non-economic damages.
5. Liability: The degree of fault attributed to the defendant and their insurance policy limits will also affect the amount of compensation available.
6. Insurance Policy Limits: as the old adage goes, you cannot get blood from a stone. All of the above factors are irrelevant if the individual or entity you are suing does not have money to pay you. That is why assessing the defendant's insurance policy early on in litigation or during pre-litigation is crucial.
Examples of Past Settlements and Verdicts in New York
In Rivera v. Kolsky, a 30-year-old male plaintiff suffered a fractured hip and a knee injury and aggravated a pre-existing back injury due to a motor vehicle accident. He underwent several medical procedures, including skeletal traction, open reduction internal fixation, and femoral fracture treatment, followed by weeks of hospital and nursing home stays. Despite physical therapy, the plaintiff still experienced pain and limited range of motion in his hip, ultimately requiring hip and knee replacement surgeries. The plaintiff could not work at his job at Home Depot for three years.
At trial, the plaintiff and his mother testified about the limitations of the plaintiff's activities. The plaintiff's physical therapist and orthopedic surgeon testified to the plaintiff's response to physical therapy and his need for a hip and knee replacement, respectively. The jury found the defendant liable and awarded the plaintiff a judgment of $1,865,305.43. The defendants appealed, but the court confirmed the lower court’s judgment.
Notably, the defendants argued that the plaintiff's obesity made his injuries worse. However, the Appellate Court found the argument unavailing because the fact that the plaintiff may have a physical or mental condition that makes him more susceptible to injury than a normal healthy person does not relieve the defendants of liability for all injuries sustained because of their negligence. The court further declined to instruct the jury concerning the plaintiff's duty to mitigate damages by failing to adequately lose weight, because the defendants failed to establish that the plaintiff was required to undergo elective weight loss surgery.
In Victor v New York City Tr. Auth., a 72-year-old woman, suffered a fractured hip that required surgery after subway doors closed on her, knocking her to the ground. The plaintiff underwent open reduction internal fixation surgery with screws and a steel intramedullary rod, followed by six days of hospitalization and two weeks of rehabilitation at a nursing home. She then had one month of physical therapy at home and continued as an outpatient for several months. Despite the post-accident treatment, the plaintiff's lifestyle was still changed, as she could not regularly travel to Manhattan to visit museums and attend cultural events and lectures.
At trial, the plaintiff's surgeon testified that she made a "very good or excellent recovery." At trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff a verdict of $850,000.00. The defendants appealed the verdict, but the Appellate Court ultimately upheld the jury's decision.
In Guss v. City of New York, the plaintiff, a 54-year-old woman, fell into a sinkhole in a street near her home and alleged that the City defendants were liable. Because of the accident, the plaintiff underwent hip replacement surgery. She had to stay in the hospital for nine days due to an infection that required the removal of the replacement hip and another surgery. She had multiple hip dislocations and needed two more surgeries to fix those issues, which required new hip replacements. The incident worsened the plaintiff's pre-existing osteoporosis, and she also experienced more anxiety and depression, which was also a pre-existing issue. After the fourth surgery, she was bedridden and had to live in a nursing home.
Sometimes, verdicts get adjusted by appellate courts or remanded back to lower courts to recalculate the damages.
At trial, the plaintiff called a rehabilitation expert. The jury found the defendants 100% at fault and awarded the plaintiff a verdict of $2,798,599 in damages for personal injuries.
The City defendants appealed, arguing that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence and that the damages were excessive. The Defendants successfully refuted a portion of the award by showing that the plaintiff had been staying at a nursing and rehabilitation center for the injury at issue as well as for other pre-existing conditions. The appellate court modified the judgment, vacating damages for future medical expenses and remitting the issue of damages for a new trial unless the plaintiff consented to reduce the damages. Appellate courts can overrule verdicts and adjust damages if the Court finds that the evidence does not support the award, as was the case here.
In Fortune v. New York City Housing Authority, the plaintiff, a 70-year-old man, was working as a roofer installing a new water tank in an NYCHA building when a co-worker fell from the top of the tank – about 20 feet – onto the plaintiff, causing a severe injury to his hip socket, which required emergency surgery. He spent two weeks in the hospital and almost four months in a rehab facility. The plaintiff also underwent total hip replacement surgery and experienced a permanent left foot drop and a limb length discrepancy of almost two inches.
At trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff a 3-million-dollar verdict, which included 2 million dollars for past pain and suffering and 1 million dollars for future pain and suffering.
On appeal, the appellate court reduced the damages to 2 million dollars total, reducing both past and future pain and suffering by about a third each. The defense did not dispute the extent of the plaintiff's injuries but argued that fair compensation for their pain and suffering would be between $500,000 and $1 million, based on similar hip injury cases. Defendant also suggested that the foot drop injury would only slightly increase the compensation awarded. The court agreed that the awards for past and future pain and suffering deviated materially from what would be reasonable compensation, considering similar cases. The court also adjusted the verdict for future lost earnings from $132,000 to $99,000.
If you've suffered a hip injury in New York, it's crucial to seek legal representation from an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you navigate the legal system and recover maximum compensation. Yassi Law has a track record of successfully handling personal injury cases and is dedicated to helping our clients receive the justice they deserve. Find out more about our personal injury practice at https://www.yassilaw.com/personal-injury, and contact us for a free consultation.
The value of a hip injury case in New York depends on various factors, and providing an exact figure is challenging. However, you can estimate the potential value of your claim by considering the severity of the injury, the victim's age and health, economic and non-economic damages, liability, and insurance policy limits. If you've suffered a hip injury due to someone else's negligence, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help you receive the compensation you deserve.
Disclaimer: Although I am a lawyer by profession, I am not YOUR lawyer. This article is for informational and educational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, and does not establish any kind of attorney-client relationship with me. I am not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information.